Friday, August 7, 2020

What I Read in June & July

After a major slump during quarantine, Summer swooped in and revived my reading life. Yay for Summer, for its multitude of reasons - but especially time for books!

Because I had such a slump, I didn't keep up with my monthly What I Read updates and decided to group June & July together here to help me get back on track. SO, here's what I read!


What I read in June + July 2020 | www.jennrych.com

This stack is considerably smaller than it normally would be because A LOT of the books I read over these two months were ebooks. I'd avoided reading ebooks in recent years, but had to resort to them during quarantine with the libraries closed. So, the first batch of books I've read have already been reviewed in a post about some of the Ebooks I read during quarantine. Those are:

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Wallbanger by Alice Clayton
Rusty Nailed by Alice Clayton
If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

You can find my reviews for that entire list HERE.

Here are my thoughts on all the rest:

I had this little book on my TBR list for such a long time - slowing down and stopping to smell the roses is my jam and I wanted to see what this meditation guru had to say about it. I didn't realize the book was written in quick little thoughts to digest and mull over - like a yummy hard candy. But of course it was - it was the perfect way to present these ideas, and reading it ignited a special kind of inspiration in me. I really enjoyed it and definitely recommend - especially for a cozy morning study.

A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger Van Oech (4 stars)
I passed this book a few times at my library's book sale before I decided that I should probably just get it. It was so goofy looking, but I loved the idea of stretching my imagination for the sake of creativity. This book was so much more than that, though - it dove into the deep discussion of how traditional schooling, indoctrination into society, and attempting to be "be normal" and keep up with others dims our creative process. I consider myself to be a fairly creative person, but even I was hung up on some of the mental block exercises. I really appreciated the message that this book carried, as well as some of the practical exercises for stepping outside the norm to find something great.

Beach Read
Beach Read by Emily Henry (5 stars)
I obsessively loved this book. It was a bit less summery and beachy than I expected it to be, but spending time in the daily lives and struggles of two writers is my idea of a good time. January and Gus write very different books, but their rivalry has its roots back in college where they were unspoken enemies. Life brings both of them some speed bumps and the fallout makes them neighbors in the small beach town where January's Dad lead a double life before his death. The tension between them, the personal journeys they go on, and the stories they write through it all are so perfect and I never wanted it to end! 

The Bro Code by Elizabeth A Seibert (2 stars) (NetGalley Ebook)
So I got this book through NetGalley because I'm a sucker for a forbidden romance (in this case, a guy in love with his best friend's sister), but it was not the exciting, juicy YA romance I expected. Nick and Eliza were members of a friend group that I really could not stand. For kids that were so committed and driven to perform well both academically and athletically in college, it seemed like they should have had more mental presence and depth to their thoughts. And while I understand why it was done, the constant use of the word "bro" and the chauvinistic views of the boys in this book were difficult to digest. I had a hard time believing that their actual words were coming from boys that were more than 15 years old. I'm not sure that your average 18 year old willingly accepts groundings from parents nor do they directly pick on Freshman or speak so toxically considering they are so driven about their futures. I also lost a lot of respect for them and their story when I found out that they used their "bro code" to cover up that they sexually assaulted women - one of them still being forced to tolerate her attacker as part of her brother's friend group. Their likeability took a nosedive after that, and though there was redemption in the way they rewrote the rules of the bro code in the end, I didn't like that they got there through such unhealthy means. Overall, I was excited for Nick and Eliza, but because of the voices and underdevelopment of the characters, I had a hard time getting through it.

We Are Called to Be a Movement by William J Barber II (5 stars) (NetGalley Ebook)
This small but mighty little book was incredibly impactful. Passionate and smart, Reverend Barber bridges the gap between scripture and social movements - impressing upon the oppressed and rejected to stand and create momentum that urges our society towards equality and acceptance. This is an incredibly important read for our time!

Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz (3.5 stars)
This is ridiculous, but I actually had no idea that this book was about Alexander Hamilton & Eliza Schuyler when I bought it years ago. I'd heard it recommended as a good YA story, but didn't pay very close attention. After being thoroughly intrigued after watching Hamilton, though, I was excited to spend time with them as young adult characters falling in love. Their story in this book was largely fictionalized, but still centered around actual historical events. It was really fun to read - if you like Hamilton, you'll like this one!

Judy Blume Classics
Can you believe I hadn't read this before? I had a copy in my stash of "future classroom library" books that never made it to a classroom and always wanted to read it. I'm so glad I did! Despite being a bit dated in some aspects, Margaret's struggles are still very relevant to every young girl growing up. Her hurdles and milestones felt very familiar, and it was interesting to see her navigate the larger life and social struggles going on around her with an oblivious eye. Her perspective as a child old enough to get the basics but not yet capable of seeing the roots in life's problems was unique. Such a great point of view - both for tweens and parents of tweens!

The Noticer by Andy Andrews (4 stars)
The major theme of this book is perspective, and it was beautiful to see that explored in multiple ways. A mysterious character named Jones pops in and out of a small Alabama town just to care for and encourage its residents. His suggestions and advice change people's lives and he expects nothing in return. At the root of everything he does is changing perspectives, and that carries through to how people see him. Depending on a person's background, they know him by other names and appearances. At lot of the themes in the book were things I've heard before, but seeing them tied up in this lovely, giving little story was really great and you can't help but feel good after reading it!

Oh Fredrick Backman, you incredible artist, you. As with all his books, this one cuts deep! Seven year old Elsa is best-best friends with her Grandmother, who passes away in the early chapters of the book. She is left feeling lonely, naturally, and has only the grand fairy tales that her Grandmother has taught her and a series of letters that send her on an adventure through her own apartment complex to navigate life without her Grandmother. Through this adventure, she gets to know her neighbors and the way their lives are all intertwined, and together they continue on her Grandmother's legacy of helping and caring for others. This is definitely a book to take your time with - there are a lot of characters, and the substory of Elsa and her Grandmother's fairy tale is woven into real life, and it's best to savor all of it. There are some actual laugh out loud moments, and of course, emotional ones. The one that got me at the very end is finding out what Elsa's new half-sibling is named, and I won't spoil it...but eep that was a beautiful moment. Pick it up and enjoy!!!

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn (4 stars)
I really really enjoyed this book and devoured it in less than a day. Centered around two country music superstars touring together for the summer, this book deals with some of the harsh realities of living life in the spotlight. Country Music RomanceI love books centered around fame because it's such an indulgent contrast to my own life. Watching Annie and Jefferson juggle their careers, their histories, and their relationship with each other was so entertaining and rewarding, and if you're looking for something really angsty and indulgent, this is a great one!

The Switch by Beth O'Leary (4 stars) (NetGalley Audiobook)
I was so excited to read this book after loving The Flatshare (Beth O'Leary's first book), and it was even more fun to be able to listen to the audiobook. Hearing the character's accents and the emotion in their dialogue added a familiarity and attachment to the characters that was really enjoyable. The premise of swapping homes and communities was so much fun - I loved listening to Leena and Eileen (Granddaughter and Grandmother, respectively) experiencing life in each other's shoes in an attempt to get their lives back on track after their mutual loss of a family member. There was a great balance between the hard, real moments, and the literal laugh out loud moments. Even more satisfying, though, was seeing how each of them made a mark in their new lives as they stepped out of their comfort zones and into exciting experiences. My only wish is that the romantic relationships had been a more prominent part of the story because the chemistry between Leena and Jackson was so, so good - I would have liked to see more of it. I know the story was supposed to focus on multi-generational growth and healing so I don't fault the book for that, I'm just a sucker for the romances! :)

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (4 stars)
In my early 20's, I was very into "chick lit" as it was formerly known. It was a growing genre in the early aughts, and Jennifer Weiner was one of the biggest names. I read through all of her early books and felt like I knew her voice and storytelling style, and this book was so very different from those older ones and I loved it! The story sets up with a Summer Sisters vibe - Instagram influencer Daphne is approached by her childhood frenemy with the request to be the maid of honor in her wedding. Hesitant and baffled, she agrees for the 'gram, and an unexpected murder mystery ensues. So many of the details in this book were indulgent and fun - the extravagance of the ultra rich on display, seeing the world through a successful plus sized influencer, navigating the complications of relationships and the consequences of reacting to negative life experiences. I loved it!

In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren (5 stars) (NetGalley Ebook)
This book was incredible!! I went into it somewhat blind - only registering that it was a new one by Christina Lauren and obviously had something to do with the holiday season, but I knew nothing else. I was pleasantly surprised to find some magical realism and a heavy dose of friends-to-lovers, including a very long unrequited crush coming to light which, if you ask me, is the very best kind of angst and longing. The main character, Mae, is in love with the holiday tradition of coming together with her chosen family for a week at a beloved Utah cabin. The book opens at the end of one of these trips where some not-so-great things have happened, inspiring her to send a desperate plea to the Universe for clarity. Suddenly, she's back on the plane that brought her to the cabin earlier that week, and she has to relive her trip - tidying up her mistakes as she goes. In her attempts to save the cabin and her holiday traditions, she also owns up to her feelings in more ways than one, and finds some romance along the way. This was an "interrupt your meals and sleep" kind of read - un-put-downable! It's everything you wish a Hallmark movie would be, in all the steamiest ways!!! I can't stop thinking about this one!


Summer reading has been so much fun this year! I'm working through my August TBR now - 1.5 books done so far, finishing up that half plus Midnight Sun. I'm going to miss having all this reading time when my kids have to get back into school!

What have you read this summer that you've loved? What are you finishing up Summer with? 


This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you! That means if you click through or make a purchase through one of those links, I may make a small commission. It's teeny tiny, but it still helps me support my blog so I'm endlessly grateful. Thank you so much!!

No comments:

Post a Comment